24th March 2022 – Bboxx, a next generation utility, and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have chosen to expand and deepen a partnership to provide clean and affordable energy to millions of Congolese people.
The previous agreement, signed two years ago at the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020, was one of the key partnerships signed under President Tshisiekedi’s pledge to reach 30% electrification nationwide – the equivalent of providing 21 million Congolese with energy access. It included a commitment by UK-based Bboxx to invest significantly in Congo and establish its clean energy services across rural and peri-urban areas. It also included commitments by the Government to create a more favorable operating environment for the Congolese energy sector.
In recognition of Bboxx’s progress, the DRC Government, under the Honorable Minister of Energy and Hydraulic Resources (MEHR) and the National Electrification and Rural Energy Services Agency (ANSER), have jointly pledged to renew the Bboxx partnership for another two years. Under this extension, Bboxx will expand its clean energy services to the provinces of Kasai Central, Kasai, Kasai Oriental, Kwilu, Bas-Congo, Equateur and Kinshasa. It also plans to expand its product offering to include clean cooking solutions in the form of LPG stoves and fuel in North and South Kivu and Kinshasa.
The Government, for its part, will continue its work to implement tax incentives for the energy sector which will encourage further international investment and job creation. They will work to remove VAT from the sale of solar systems and clean cooking solutions, as well as import duties on solar systems and clean energy equipment. The Government also aims to secure at least $50mn of additional funding for the flagship programme ‘Fonds Mwinda’ before the end of 2023.
The joint ambition of the DRC government and Bboxx is to extend clean energy services to at least 3 million people by 2024 and 10 million by 2030.
To date, Bboxx has invested significantly to build its presence in DRC, establishing operations across seven provinces in eastern and southern DRC in North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Tshopo, Haut-Uele, Haut-Katanga and Lualaba. Bboxx solar systems now supply clean energy to over 350,000 Congolese in rural and peri-urban areas, making Bboxx the biggest private utility in the DRC. The company has established a network of over 30 shops, a call centre and a state-of-the-art repair centre for solar systems in DRC and has created over 1,000 jobs. Its headquarters are currently based in Goma, North Kivu.
Meanwhile the Congolese government has established the National Electrification and Rural Energy Services Agency (ANSER) and has rolled out a flagship subsidy programme ‘Fonds Mwinda’.
Bboxx DRC and two other Operators participated in the research pilot for this programme in 2021, with Bboxx DRC alone providing subsidized clean energy to over 5,000 Congolese. Off-grid solar subsidies delivered through Fonds Mwinda will help to accelerate the future deployment of standalone solar and mini-grid connections, by increasing affordability of the rural and peri-urban connections offered by private sector players like Bboxx and incentivizing private investment in the fast-growing off-grid sector.
Laurent Van Houcke, Bboxx co-founder and MD of Bboxx Capital, said: “Bboxx has kept the promise it made to the Congolese government when we signed the first memorandum of understanding two years ago. Since then, we have invested significantly to serve hundreds and thousands of Congolese with clean energy solutions, and Bboxx has become the biggest private utility in the country. The next step is for us to continue to work with the Government to help achieve their vision of 30% electrification by 2024, by expanding our services to Kasai and western DRC where there is a serious lack of energy solutions and a huge need for our products. We are also looking forward to launching and expanding our clean cooking solution in Kivu and Kinshasa to help provide modern, clean and affordable cooking services to Congo.”
Idesbald Chinamula, CEO of ANSER said: “ANSER (Agence National d’Électrification et des Services Énergétiques en milieux Rural et periurbain) is excited to see the impact of its flagship programme ‘Fonds Mwinda’ which was launched last year and has the aim to develop access to energy in the rural and peri-urban areas of the DRC. With this new engagement from the DRC government to secure an additional $50m for Fonds Mwinda over the next two years, we look forward to working with Bboxx to create access to energy solutions in the areas that need it most, such as Kasai and Kwilu. We also understand the need to create a tax regime which can encourage further investment from companies such as Bboxx in order to help us reach at least 30% of the population with clean energy solutions. VAT and import duties should not be charged on energy or essential services such as solar and clean cooking fuel and we need to update our tax laws to enable the energy sector to grow.”
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Bboxx is a next generation utility, transforming lives and unlocking potential through access to energy. Bboxx manufactures, distributes and finances decentralised solar powered systems in developing countries. It is scaling through forging strategic partnerships and its innovative technology Bboxx Pulse®, a comprehensive management platform using IoT technology. Through affordable, reliable, and clean utility provision, Bboxx is bringing people into the digital economy, creating new markets, and enabling economic development in off-grid communities and those living without a reliable grid connection. The company is positively impacting the lives of more than 2 million people with its products and services in over 27 markets, directly contributing to 11 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
So far, Bboxx has deployed more than 500,000 solar home systems. Bboxx has over 1,000 staff across nine offices including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Togo, with its head office in the UK and its manufacturing operations in China. In 2019, Bboxx was the winner of the Zayed Sustainability Prize in the Energy category – testament to the way the company is making a meaningful difference to people’s lives around the world. You can find further information about Bboxx on its website at – www.bboxx.com
For more information please contact:
Mike Nicholls or Amy Drawbell
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7457 2834